Johnson and Spieth duel in instant classic

By | August 28, 2017

DJ-Spieth duel is as good as it gets | via Rex Hoggard for The Golf Channel

The golf world got an instant classic on Sunday when World #1 Dustin Johnson managed to claw his way back into a playoff with World #3 (now World #2) Jordan Spieth to conclude the first round of the FedEx Playoffs.

The 18th hole at the Glen Oaks provided amazing drama but it also had its detractors. Ian Poulter seemed to sum up a common thread with this Tweet:
https://twitter.com/IanJamesPoulter/status/901940319280824320

I have to respectfully and completely disagree.

The 18th hole at Glen Oaks is a classic risk-reward hole. Yes, it does benefit the long-ball player as Johnson so clearly proved with his drive during the playoff. Poulter is correct to point out that there are only a handful of players that have the length to even attempt that shot. But, attempt it Johnson did. He threw caution to the wind, risked everything, and hit a perfect 341-yard drive into ideal position.

Johnson learned from his mistake the first time down the 18th and played for the long-ball. Hit the fairway and the 60º wedge would put him in fine shape. Miss the fairway and at least he would be closer to the green with a better chance of holding his approach, unlike the position he was in during regulation.

Had Johnson misplayed his drive and lost the playoff we would be sitting here today talking about how Johnson got too greedy. That he should have played the hole more conservatively. But, instead, he pulled off the shot. How can you hate on a hole because a gifted athlete has worked hard to have that shot available to him and had the courage to go for it under so much pressure?

Johnson only had a chance to hit that drive during a playoff because he had stayed aggressive throughout his day. We have to remember that Jordan Spieth had a 5-stroke lead at one point on Sunday. Spieth himself put it best when he said, “I didn’t lose the tournament. He won it.”

If Mr. Poulter and the other players that appear to share his opinion are so concerned with keeping everything equal then I would suggest they restrict themselves to chipping and putting contests. I’ll take the drama and athletic display we got yesterday in round one of the FedEx Playoffs every time.